6/6/2017 by Katherine Memery
While it seems like only yesterday that Theresa May announced the snap election, there are now a mere two days left before Britain takes to the polls. Last month, we carried out a survey to find out how members of the legal profession feel about June 8th and to get an insight into the most important political issues for lawyers.
In 2015, election turnout was around 66% but according to our findings, an overwhelming 97% of lawyers are planning to vote. Interestingly, however, only 60% of those said they intended to back the party they voted for in 2015.
While staunch party supporters will have made their minds up even before Theresa May called the election in April, there are still a large number of floating voters who are undecided, including nearly 20% of lawyers. Because the electorate are arguably more fickle than ever before, politicians can’t afford to take votes for granted and must work harder to win the support of the British people.
The latest polls show that May’s Conservatives are 4 points ahead, but according to the lawyers we spoke to, it will be Jeremy Corbyn not the Prime Minister, moving into Number 10 on Friday.
Half of those who took part in our survey said they were planning on voting for the Labour Party and only 18% planned to back the Tories. The Liberal Democrats came in third place, with 10% of respondents saying they would be backing Tim Farron. When we looked at gender, a higher proportion of female lawyers said they were voting Labour, and a quarter were undecided (compared with only 9% of males).
Nearly three-quarters of those we spoke to said that the parties’ strategy for Brexit is important in determining who gets their vote. However it wasn’t the most decisive issue for many lawyers; for a quarter of respondents, the economy was their top concern.
Across the UK generally, health and the NHS is a key issue, with research carried out by Ipsos MORI revealing that for 44% it is their main worry. Interestingly, out of the lawyers we spoke to, only 17% cited it as the most important issue, with most respondents prioritising other policy areas like the economy and Brexit.
The Ipsos MORI research also revealed that immigration is a concern for 25% of Brits, but we found that only 5% of lawyers believe it to be a crucial matter in this election. Amongst the lawyers we surveyed, education and equality were also significant, with 8% and 9% of respondents citing these as their top priority.
While our findings did give an insight into the voting intentions of members of the legal profession, it’s likely that the viewpoints of lawyers are not shared by the general British population. Lawyers arguably place greater importance on areas that will impact them professionally, such as the economy and the UK’s relationship with the European Union and the rest of the world.
What’s more, the Labour Party was by far the most popular choice amongst those surveyed, with half pledging their support for Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday.
With the polls suggesting an increasingly close contest between the main parties, it seems impossible to predict the real outcome of this election. At Realm, we’ll be watching closely to see whether voting behaviour on Thursday mirrors the intentions of members of the legal profession. Will Theresa May be the one responsible for navigating the Brexit process, or will Jeremy Corbyn, the underdog of British politics, finally be the one to enter Downing Street?
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